Your Survival Guide for Allergic Asthma
Protect Your Bed
Use mattress and pillow covers. "They basically seal your mattress and your pillow case so you don't have a reaction," says Kim Franklin, a nurse in Omaha, NE. She was diagnosed with allergic asthma in 2002.
Thomas says you can also vacuum your mattress or use an upholstery tool to keep dust mites and other allergens at bay.
The American Lung Association recommends washing sheets, other bedding, and pajamas at least once a week in very hot water.
Beware of Dog (and Cat)
About a third of people with allergic asthma are triggered by cat dander. But if you're one of them, you may not have to give up a home with cats and other pets.
While there are no truly allergy-free dogs or cats, some breeds can be easier to live with. "Low-allergen" dogs include the poodle, bichon frise, and Maltese. Some people have good luck with Devon Rex cats.
And know your limits. Tom Miller, a marketing executive in Indianapolis, developed allergic asthma 7 years ago. While two cats are too many for him, he says one cat in the house is no problem.
Watch What You Eat
Avoiding certain foods might help you breathe easier. Miller says his symptoms "dramatically decreased" within 2 days when he gave up gluten 2 months ago. "I can sleep through the night now," he says.
Thomas' quality of life improved when she figured out which foods wouldn't trigger her allergies. For her, safe foods include potatoes and frozen orange juice (supplemented with calcium).
"I clean house, tend my flower garden, help with Christmas projects, and other things," she says. "I have a great life. I love it."